October 22, 2014

Riverboat gambling legend Robert Kehl dies at home in Dubuque

A 78-year-old Dubuque man who became one of the state’s gambling pioneers has died. 

Robert Kehl and his wife began operating a riverboat in Dubuque in 1973. Seventeen years later Kehl was granted the first state riverboat gambling license. He started operating the Casino Bell out of Dubuque in 1991.

Kehl’s family business now runs five casinos in the state: the Riverside Casino and Golf Resort south of Iowa City; the Grand Falls Casino in far northwest Iowa; the Diamond Jo in Dubuque; the Mississippi Belle II in Clinton and Catfish Bend in Burlington. The Kehl business is also working on the opening of a new land-based casino in Davenport.

Robert Kehl’s funeral is scheduled for Saturday morning at St. Columbkille Catholic Church in Dubuque.

The Dubuque Telegraph-Herald reports Kehl had been in poor health for an extended period and died at his home Wednesday morning. A visitation for the Kehl family will be held Friday from 3-8 p.m. at the Kehl Center on the campus of Clarke University in Dubuque.